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Sustainability in the textile industry

Can «Fast Fashion» Be Sustainable?

According to Greenpeace, global sales of clothing almost doubled between 2002 and 2015. Is it still possible to buy cheap clothing with a clear conscience today?

Interview with Herbert Winistörfer

On 18 October, 2018, Herbert Winistörfer, Head of the Center for Corporate Responsibility (CCR), gave an interview on this topic to «20 Minuten». He emphasized that cheap fashion in the sense of living wages for workers is never fair. «In many countries where fast fashion is produced, the apparel industry is nevertheless an important economic sector. It has created jobs,» said Winistörfer. In Bangladesh, for example, over 80% of total exports are textiles. The downside of economic development, however, is very low wages and poor working conditions. «The question arises as to who has to take responsibility for this situation: the country of production, the fashion companies, or consumers?» According to Winistörfer, the trend is to make companies more accountable. «The UN has formulated guiding principles for corporate responsibility.» Now countries are in the process of implementing them.

Don't Buy, Trade: First Clothes Exchange at the SML

On the initiative of Alumni Services, the first clothing exchange took place at the ZHAW School of Management and Law (SML) on 9 October 2018 to counter the trend towards «fast fashion». About 200 students, employees, and alumni took part in the campaign, supplying trousers, shirts, shoes, accessories, and more to the Career & Alumni Services Office at the SML. These were traded on a 1:1 basis: For each item of clothing supplied, people received a token entitling them to choose another item.

In addition to the clothes exchange, the event also aimed to raise awareness of the problems and challenges facing the textile industry with regard to social and ecological issues. The CCR provided information on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and illustrated the effects on people and the environment using concrete examples from the textile industry for each individual SDG. Afterwards, visitors were asked to test their knowledge in a Sustainable Fashion Quiz. Sebastian Lanz, founder of the RRRevolve Eco Concept Store and an online platform of the same name, gave an exciting lecture on sustainable textile production and fair trade fashion. The day thus focused on the critical examination of conscious and sustainable consumption - without ignoring the joy of fashion.